Authored by: Jim Spratt, Florida Nursery Growers and Landscapers Association
During the 2014 session, Florida joined 23 other states in the legalization of cannabis for medical use by passing SB 1030. Although it was an aggressive step by the Legislature, the real litmus test for Florida will be determined in November, as voters cast their ballots on Amendment 2 to Florida’s Constitution. Below, we have outlined the differences between SB 1030 and the proposed Amendment 2.
What forms of cannabis are allowed?
non- euphoric, non-smokable cannabis products must not be edible (such as foods or candies) and under no circumstances does the law allow the sale of any smokable form of cannabis.
Amendment 2 allows ingested, smokable and edible forms of cannabis products so long as such is prescribed by a medical doctor.
Which conditions qualify for cannabis use?
Patients diagnosed with Cancer or physical medical conditions that chronically produce symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms
Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or other conditions for which a physician believes the medical use of marijuana will likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient. Additionally, it creates a “pot for any purpose” scenario in which a recommendation, not a doctor’s prescription, can be used to treat fatigue, neck/back aches, menstrual cramps and sleepless nights – far from debilitating medical conditions.
Who can produce and dispense cannabis?
SB 1030 created five geographic regions and directed one dispensary be licensed in each region. Under the law, the Dispensing Organization must demonstrate the ability to cultivate, process, produce and distribute cannabis; demonstrate businesses financial stability; have the ability to secure infrastructure; and, must be a nursery which has operated in Florida for at least 30 continuous years and be licensed to produce at least 400,000 nursery plants.
Amendment 2 allows a business to “acquire, cultivate, possess, process (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfer, transport, sale, distribute, dispense, or administer marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials” to qualifying patients or their personal caregivers.
While Amendment 2 prescribes the Florida Department of Health as the regulatory agency, the Amendment sets no parameters on what types of businesses can be licensed to grow cannabis and the locations of the dispensaries.
Is there a limit to the varieties grown?
The law limits cannabis varieties to those with 0.8 percent or less THC content (the euphoric component) and 10 percent cannabidiol (the medicinal component) by weight. Most commonly, people refer to Charlotte’s Web as the variety which meets these parameters, yet other varieties similar in percentage THC and cannabidiol are currently available.
Security requirements and quality control of the products are also not specifically addressed under Amendment 2.
While there are differences between SB 1030 and Amendment 2, cannabis is illegal to cultivate, process or sale under federal law. The U.S. House of Representatives has demonstrated some interest in wrestling with the illegal status of medical marijuana. In fact, legislation was recently introduced to exempt cannabis plants with very low THC percentages from the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The U.S. House also passed a bill to allow banks to handle cash transactions from dispensaries and other marijuana businesses in legalized states. The Farm Bill now allows industrial hemp to be grown for academic or research purposes. And, the U.S. House passed a bill to block funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state laws. However, the U.S. Senate has yet to act on any of these House-passed measures.
To protect Florida’s constitution from special interests trying to buy a place in it in order to force their ideas onto Floridians, and to protect Floridians from large scale marijuana commercialization and sales, the Florida Chamber opposes Amendment 2.
Learn more about why the Florida Chamber is saying No on Amendment 2 here and help us protect Floridians and our constitution.